Sunday, June 17, 2018

Newly Discovered Writings by Sarah Eva Howe Take Us on a House-to-House Stroll Through 1890s Carrollton, Kentucky

Dear Readers,
After writing posts that shared Sarah Eva Howe's story from her birth in 1883 to sending her youngest child off to college 50 years later, I was planning to continue with stories about the adult children and of Sarah's later years.

But a Howe-Salyers descendant in Iowa found a treasure: dozens of loose pages full of Sarah's handwritten memories of Carrollton – and he gave those pages to me!

On those pages, Sarah names people and describes places and events of that town in that time. People today would likely come across their Carrollton ancestors' names in her writings. People who live in Carrollton now would recognize the streets, buildings, and landmarks she mentions.

That being the case, I feel compelled to take a break from the 1930s and return to the 1880s and '90s. Starting now and in the next few posts, we will visit 1890s Carrollton. Be warned. Sarah is not always kind in her opinions about some of the folks who lived there. She hints at attitudes that may be considered inappropriate today. Consider that my disclaimer.

And now: The beginning of Sarah's recollections of late-19th-century Carrollton, when she was about 6 years old – the age she is in the photo below. My clarifications of meaning and my uncertainties about interpreting her handwriting are noted in brackets. Near the end of the post, a modern map shows the area of town Sarah recalls in her writing.

In order to follow the story of our early years in Carrollton, it seems best to describe Carrollton . . . straight through town, from the river (the Kentucky) on to the “Ghent road” [apparently the road that is now Highland Avenue/US 42.] This was crossed, as now, by the numbered streets; Sycamore St. lay south of it, and Seminary beyond that; farther than Seminary seemed as the “farthest isles of the sea.” 
Sarah and her little brother Chandler, c. 1889

Seminary boasted few homes. I suppose Capt. Adcock’s was there, tho the family only swam into my ken when I remember “Daisy” as being in the 8th Grade, tho I heard Mildred mention “Aunt Leotah” and “Uncle Anson,” and I knew the latter at our church and in the drug store (Miss Sue’s brother, he was) and of course they lived there. The big house across the street, facing on 7th St., I forget who lived there, but the house next to it, afterwards Kirby’s, was our Methodist parsonage, considered really preposterously far from the church in those days when the parsonage was supposed to be next door. I think the Ginns lived next door even then. Mr. James Ginn was a [word unreadable] politician, Democrat of course, tho Harrison was President when we went there –- the county politics were Democratic. I think Mr. Ginn was county clerk for a long time. Mrs. Ginn was quite a prominent worker in temperance societies, which were soon quite a feature of our life. They had two boys, Bob and Earl. Bob was studying either medicine or dentistry –- I remember hearing them say nobody would think of having him, he was too young, tho he was called “Doctor.” Earl I knew real well later, tho he was at least 5 years older than I.

The Methodist minister at the time was Brother Nugent, from Mississippi, a fine pastor but not an interesting pastor; his wife and he both had lovely Southern accents; she seemed greatly his inferior in character, being very “gossipy,” of which more “anon.” They had one boy, Clarence (“J.C.”), who was indeed a splendid fellow and well liked by everyone (sometimes, alas, not the case with “preacher’s boys” of the day). 

These were on 7th St. near Seminary –- I don’t know whether Mr. And Mrs. Forbes were already living at the other corner or not, but I believe they were, as Theodore was already in school then. Mrs. Forbes was a daughter of Theodore Bates of Worthville, a really good family. Mr. Forbes was a pillar of the Presbyterian church and wore what is known as Dundreary or mutton chop, whiskers –- one of the few who did. (Of course, the fact that he was prominent in the 1st National Bank when all our family were completely tied up with Carrollton National made him anathema to us; added to this, it was reported on good authority that he had refused to attend the Methodist Church after one [visit], saying he “found no food for his soul” there. (Imagine the reaction of the Howe family!)
Sarah's handwriting about Mr. Forbes and his mutton chop whiskers and connection to 2st National Bank
[Picking up Sarah’s text here after an unreadable portion of a page]  . . . a story told of him by Miss Lou Sanders. When they were together in the first grade, he gave her a card on which he had written “Be my Valentine” (she says it took her years to realize why he didn’t buy a real one or put a stamp on it as most of the other boys did). Coming down to 6th Street (I believe there was only one house between, afterwards occupied by Miss Carrie Moreland, who lived there when she died by burning with splashed gasoline) on the corner was the low, long house occupied by the Gullions –- who were the current editors of the Carrollton Democrat. (Their entrance was on 6th St.) They had three boys: Allen, a very precocious, bright boy four years older than I, Carroll, one year older, and Walter, almost a year old in 1890. Mrs. Gullion was such a wonderful, outstanding woman that she deserves a page or two all for herself, and I shall have it later. This was Mr. Ed Gullion, and Mrs. Gullion was a Hanks, of the famous Kentucky family, and especially the Carroll County branch. All of them were all members of the Christian Church. Mr. Gullion’s father, from “the Ould Sod,” was Wyant O’Gullion (Allen’s middle name was Wyant.) Ed Gullion’s brother Emmett, was a fervent Methodist and longtime member of our church. He lived farther out 6th Street, across the street from [name unreadable]. His wife was a Campbell, from a prominent Northern Kentucky family. She had a sister who was almost a dwarf, who lived with her, a great wonderment to us children; the two daughters, Mildred and the baby Louise, were raised in the “faith” of their mother, Baptist. 

Indeed, the church lines were so sharply drawn that some spoke with regret of “mixed marriages” between Baptists and Methodists, and indeed it did often cause family quarrels and dissension. As to the few Protestant-Catholic marriages, these were considered real tragedies. One such marriage, however, was managed with some skill –- simply by the husband announcing that all his children were to be raised in the Methodist church –- and sticking to it. This was the family that lived catercorner on 6th Street (2nd from the corner) from the Ed Gullions –- Fred Kipping and his wife who had, when we moved there, two grown sons, both married, and two married daughters and two small sons, one six years, the other four years older than I –- Charlie [Kipping] and Oscar Geier [Kipping], named for his cousin, the young druggist of M.A. Geier and Company. These all were faithful attendants, with their father, of our church -– their placid Catholic, sunny-faced mother (Miss Kraut[?] from Madison, she was the aunt of Mrs. [?] in Lexington) seemingly never protested (no use anyway).

Across from the Kippings lived the Pryor girls and their mother in a rambling old frame house. They were the wife and daughters of a famous Civil War fighter (Confederate, of course). I don’t know of any house then built between 6th and 5th, but on the corner of 5th was the old low brick occupied by the Bergs, the old jeweler, his wife and two daughters, Julia and Tillie. Julia married (by 1890) Will Schuerman, and Tillie (the older, I believe) [married] one of the Dean boys, cousins of Miss Sue Browinski, and they lived out in the country on the Dean place, near Dean’s Woods, where we had the Sunday school picnics, now all a part of Butler Park. 
This portion of today's Carrollton map illustrates the segment of the town Sarah describes in her writings. Based on her description of the 1890s, the Methodist Church and the Christian Church were in the locations marked on this modern map. (Google Maps)
I think the Grobmyers were living in the big house on the corner then, and over on the other side the old Seminary took up the whole square. When we went [to school] there in 1890 it was a ghost school, the whole student body, high school and all, having been moved out to the new 6th St. one. The big yard, surrounded by a high iron fence, was used to pasture cows and for different kinds of ball games and children’s antics. The old frame house on the corner opposite Grobmyer’s I have no remembrance of, but I know it must have been there, with some one we knew living in it; there was no house between it and the Christian Church (newly built) on 5th St.  

Across from that church was the small brick occupied by Mrs. Grobmeier (they were cousins of Cass and Ed but spelled their name differently). It was this family (one of the boys was Arthur’s father and married Miss Katie Seppenfeld) and one [boy named Tim?] married Emma Brink and was Jeannette’s father. . . . This Mrs. Grobmeier was washing for the Seppenfelds when [some in the Seppenfeld family] took smallpox in the early '80s. Mrs. S. didn’t tell Mrs. G. about the illness but sent the bedclothes to her to wash as usual. Two Grobmyer children [caught smallpox and] died; the others also had it. For that reason Mrs. G. held out for years against the marriage of her son and Miss Katie. There was a baby of the family, Laurence, who went to school with me for several years, tho he was several years older. 

In those days the Catholic school children -- after confirmation -- came over to the “White school,” as they sometimes unthinkingly echoed the joking name given it by the Protestants. They were several years behind the corresponding grade generally, and I can still see the eager, obedient, slightly dull big boys and a few larger girls, in among our small fry in the 4th and 5th grades: George Abel (the twins’ father), Laurence, Eddie Donnely (Maggie’s brother) and others.

Also we had large children from the country schools, who sometimes started in the spring after their terms ended in February. Stella Carrico, who I am sure was Paul’s aunt or near relative, was in the second grade with me.

To Be Continued

In the next post we'll meet more of Sarah's neighbors and hear a bit more about entanglements between members of the local Methodist, Baptist, Christian, and Catholic churches. 


Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Sarah's Baby Enters College: Memorabilia of Freshman Life at the University of Kentucky, 1933-1934

David Hillis Salyers II, the youngest child of Will and Sarah Eva Howe Salyers, made quite a name for himself at Henry Clay High in Lexington. He must have been a "Big Man on Campus" in high school by the time he graduated in 1933.

That fall he enrolled at the University of Kentucky. In those days, the college freshman year was steeped in traditions and rules that were intended, I thought, to put freshmen in their place – to deliver what my grandmother called a "considerable comeuppance" to new students who arrived from high school full of self-confidence and senior sensibilities. Apparently, I was wrong about that. Freshmen apparently basked in those traditions and rules.

For example, each freshman had to learn the college song, written just eight years before David started college.
Every freshman boy had to wear a cap and could be penalized if found on campus without it. This campus newspaper article explained:
The story ended: "Freshmen: Display your caps proudly! In wearing them, you are doing much more than merely distinguishing yourselves as freshmen. You are preserving a tradition of your University." His mother, Sarah, liked the caps herself. On Oct. 15, 1933, she wrote to her mother and sister:
David has just finished his fifth week at U of K and is quite a seasoned freshman now. In a few more days the freshies will have to begin wearing their caps and we are so glad, for it makes them look more "authentic."
 David, who like his siblings before him joined the staff of the Kentucky Kernal student newspaper staff, wrote this article about the history of the freshman cap:
Unfortunately, I have yet to find a photo of David in his freshman cap. I'm sure it was more attractive than a shaved head would have been!

David was a busy freshman! Here's a section of a newspaper clipping showing him
as a member of the university's Men's Glee Club, directed by Professor C. A. Lambert. Someone (probably Sarah) marked him with an "x."
As in high school, he participated in school drama productions. In his freshman year, he appeared in the university production of "Peter Pan." The following article, apparently from a newspaper in his home town of Carrollton, Ky., brags about him. The next item, the playbill's Cast of Characters, lists David in the starring role.
As mentioned in the Carrollton newspaper article, David was also a member of SuKY (an honorary student pep society) and a pledge (and later a full-fledged member) of Kappa Sigma fraternity. The next clipping from the Kentucky Kernel names members of the chapter's pledge class of 1933. Do you recognize any of your own ancestors on the list?

And, of course, there was sports. David attended college athletic events but, as far as I know, was not on UK teams (except, later, possibly tennis). Apparently he preferred watching basketball more than football. The scrapbook for his freshman year included these bits of basketball ephemera:
 I'm puzzled about the following piece. It seems to be an editorial statement that David wrote about college sports.

The scrapbooks also mention that David was for at least a semester a member of some sort of military drill corp. So many activities, yet apparently he took a robust academic schedule and made better than average grades. Like his siblings, it seems the busier he was, the higher his achievements.

Because it is fascinating to compare costs of times gone by to costs today, I'll close by posting the receipt for David's first semester at UK. His $47 cost for fees in 1933 represents $506 in today's dollars – a 2430.8 percent inflation rate. I don't know what "fees" covered in 1933 and if tuition was included in that category. According to the College Board, the average for tuition and fees at a public, in-state college/university in the 2017-2018 was about $5,000 per semester, so $506 sounds pretty good!
Note the headline pasted over one corner of the receipt. Imagine UK with only 2,347 students!

Now that we have all four of the Salyers children through high school and into college, I'm hoping readers will guide me on where this blog goes from here. As I mentioned in the previous post, I recently acquired pages and pages written in the 1940s by "The Scrapbooker," Sarah Eva Howe. The pages record her memories of childhood in Carrollton. While I have not yet read this "new" memoir, I anticipate it will build on stories told in the early scrapbooks, adding more names, dates, and places – and adding new stories as well. Where shall we go next, dear reader? Do we continue watching Sarah's four children grow up, get jobs, serve in the military, fall in love, and marry? Or do we double back to pick up Sarah's memories of the 1890s before picking up again where we left off in 1933? I'm eager to hear your opinion. Just click "Post a Comment" below.

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Lexington, Kentucky, 1933: The Baby of the Salyers Family Achieves Stardom at Henry Clay High

David H. Salyers II, 9th-Grader
In the fall of 1929, the family of Will and Sarah Howe Salyers was getting settled in Lexington, Ky., after moving there from Richmond. The baby of the family, David Hillis Salyers II, enrolled in the 9th grade at Morton Junior High School. Tidbits in his mother's scrapbooks show that he was an above-average student, making As, Bs, and the occasional C. However, he excelled in basketball and in all things musical.

As during his younger years in his home town of Carrollton, he was an active Boy Scout. I'm not sure when this troop photo (below) was taken, but I believe David stayed in scouting through at least part of high school.
David (seated, second from left) with his Boy Scout troop, circa 1929

In January 1930, he graduated from Morton. I don't understand the timing, graduating in January instead of the traditional May or June, but maybe junior high schools, like colleges, offered that option. Whatever the case, I'm touched by the congratulations he received from his oldest brother Bob, who was working in Joliet, Illinois, and his father, who was still a regional salesman and away from home most of the time. In a telegram sent the day before graduation ceremonies, Bob teased his little brother (they were eight years apart in age) and called him by his nickname, "Herbs." I have no idea of the source of that nickname, but David was known in the family as "Little Herbs" and his dad "Big Herbs." Note the two newspaper clippings pasted over the heading of the telegram. The one on the right tells us that David was one of 60 students to graduate from Morton Junior High in ceremonies held on Jan. 17 (1930). The one on the left refers to a trip David made to Richmond to spend a weekend with friends he had made during two years at Madison Junior High.
In a letter (below) dated three days after commencement, Will Salyers tells his son that he learned the news of his graduation via an article in the Louisville Courier-Journal. I struggle with that. Surely Will knew his son was about to complete junior high! Surely Will, like Bob, was teasing. How like a typical dad he was, advising his son to study hard in high school and go out for the basketball team.
David H. Salyers II, 10th-Grader, 1931

I haven't been able to determine if David enrolled at Henry Clay High in January 1930 or not until the following fall. Either way, he apparently did well in his school work. The scrapbooks show a few report cards, basketball schedules, and other memorabilia. His 10th-grade school photo is a family favorite.

By his senior year, 1932-33, he is well known for his work in Scouting, his writing in the student newspaper (a Salyers family tradition), and his baritone singing voice. He had performed in leading rolls in several church, community, and school concerts and operettas when, in February 1933, he tackled his most challenging role, the lead in Henry Clay High School's production of Gilbert and Sullivan's "Iolanthe." To say the family was proud of him understates the case. I've found copies of the operetta photos, programs, and publicity articles in at least four scrapbooks!

David H. Salyers II (center, in a long, curled wig) starring in a Gilbert & Sullivan operetta.
Cast of characters, Henry Clay High School production of "Iolanthe," February 1933
Before the performance, the Lexington Herald-Leader carried two articles about the production and it's star. This one (on right) features the student in the lead role.

Other articles from the same issue (see below) give us insight into the times. At first I thought the "Iolanthe" article was on the front page of the newspaper. After another look, I realized that someone (probably David's mother Sarah Eva Howe Salyers) clipped articles and designed a front page to feature her youngest son. Misleading – but clever!

In the spring of 1933, David received a diploma from Henry Clay High. His senior picture (left) shows him as a serious young man, ready to move on to the University of Kentucky. Based on the posts about his older siblings, you can probably guess some of his activities on campus. We'll take a look at specifics in a future post.

And yes, I think I see sadness in those eyes. Some of us who knew him wonder if that could be a sign of the "twinless twin" factor discussed in a previous post. There's no way of knowing now, but I long to go back in time and talk with him about it.

In the next post we'll follow David as he follows his siblings' footsteps to become a student at the University of Kentucky. David (or his mother; it's unclear who was doing the scrapbooking at that point) saved many pieces of memorabilia about life as a freshman.

After that, we may take a little break and then shift gears, returning to hometown Carrollton and Sarah's childhood. I've just returned from visiting Howe-Salyers descendant Al Hays (son of Sarah's daughter Mary Alice), who blessed me with two stacks of 12x12 pages filled with childhood memories as Sarah recalled them and wrote about them circa 1940. This is the equivalent of two more scrapbooks of family and Carrollton history! Just glancing at a few of the pages, I can advise readers that if they had ancestors in Carrollton as early as 1890, those ancestors' names just might be in this manuscript. Stay tuned!